December 9, 2010

Mice Created From Two Different Fathers

A team of reproductive scientists have successfully produced both male and female mice using two different fathers, according to a study published online Wednesday in the journal Biology of Reproduction.

According to a December 8 press release from Biology of Reproduction publishers the Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR), the research "could be a step toward preserving endangered species, improving livestock breeds, and advancing human assisted reproductive technology (ART). It also opens the provocative possibility of same-sex couples having their own genetic children."

The scientists, who were led by Dr. Richard R. Berhringer at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, "manipulated fibroblasts" from a male mouse fetus in order to create "an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell line." They discovered that approximately one percent of the iPS cell colonies grown from this XY cell line "spontaneously lost the Y chromosome, resulting in XO cells."

Those XO cells were then injected into the blastocysts of female mice, which were in turn transplanted into surrogate mothers. The mothers then "gave birth to female XO/XX chimeras" that had one X chromosome from the original male mouse. Those chimeras were then mated with normal male mice, resulting in offspring "that had genetic contributions from two fathers."

According to an AFP report, Berhinger and his team said that using a variation of this technique could ultimately make it possible "to generate sperm from a female donor and produce viable male and female progeny with two mothers," but that "generation of human iPS cells still requires significant refinements" before experts could attempt to adapt the procedure to people.

The SSR, in the words of their official website, is "an association of scientists and physicians interested in research in all fields of reproductive biology. Some members are engaged in basic or applied research, while others perform clinical practice. All are dedicated to advancing knowledge of reproductive processes in animals and in humans."

"Research by SSR members focuses on important problems in human and animal reproduction, including: Female and male infertility (e.g. pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment), contraception, pregnancy-related disorders (e.g. pre-eclampsia, premature labor), diseases of the reproductive tract (e.g. endometriosis, cancers of the ovary, uterus, prostate), reproductive toxicology, lactation, animal fertility and fecundity, reproduction and conservation of endangered species, basic mechanisms controlling the function of organs involved in reproduction, [and] mechanisms of cell differentiation and development," the organization's website added.


On the Net: